‘Ding’ Tarpon Tournament Breaks Records


The fifth annual “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament on May 7, 2016, topped previous years’ fundraising efforts by netting $55,000 from tournament sponsorships, donations, and silent auction proceeds to benefit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

The tournament paid out $18,725 to two of 50 participating teams. Team Chasin’ Poon took home a check for $12,037.50 for first place. Second place went to Team Teaser, winning $6,687.50.

“One hundred percent of the anglers’ registration fees goes to the awards purse,” said tournament chair Don Wildman, a member of the board of directors for the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS). “That’s why our sponsorship partners are so important to us. They pay the costs for putting on the tourney and contribute to the charity proceeds.”

“Only two teams caught tarpon this year. That means the remaining purse, totaling $8,025, will roll into next year’s awards,” said DDWS executive director Birgie Miller. “This year’s winners have set the date for the sixth annual tournament for the weekend of May 20, 2017.”

DDWS organizes the annual tournament with Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille of Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach and Captiva Island as the title sponsor. Tournament social events took place at the Fort Myers Beach location.

“We can’t thank Doc Ford’s enough for their incredible show of support these past five years,” said Miller. “They’ve already committed for the 2017 tourney along with our presenting sponsor, Diversified Yacht Services.”

“We call it a ‘catch, care, and release’ tournament because education and research are at the forefront of the event’s mission,” said Wildman. “Part of this year’s $55,000 proceeds will go toward water quality research to make sure our local tarpon populations stay vital.”

For more information on the tournament and this year’s winners, visit www.dingdarlingtarpontourney.org.


Tournament sponsors for 2016 included: Title Sponsor: Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille; Presenting Sponsor: Diversified Yacht Services; Platinum Sponsors: Bella Signs & Designs, Congress Jewelers, Florida Weekly, Hogy Lures, Lee County Sports Development, Raiser’s Edge, Sanibel Gear, Santiva Chronicle, Suncoast Beverage; Gold Sponsors: Andrew Thompson Co., Anisa Stewart Jewelry, The Bait Box, Captiva Diva, Fort Myers Marine, The Gresham Family, Happy Foods, Island Inn, Island Sun, Janet Strickland Law Office, Jensen’s Marina, John Grey Painting, Mabry Brothers Electric, Media Source, On Island, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Sanibel Island Fishing Club,  Seafood Market, VIP Realtors, Whitney’s Bait & Tackle; Silver Sponsor: Bailey’s General Store, Discovery Senior Living, Gulf Star Marina, Island Sand Paper, Key West Express, Must Do Visitor Guides & MustDo.com, R.S. Walsh Landscaping, Sanibel Air & Electric, Semmer Electric/Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Café, Shoreline Lumber, Don Wildman

About Ding Darling Wildlife Society – Friends of the Refuge

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566.